Why unemployment data are not just numbers on a spreadsheet

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The National Bureau of Statistics released disaggregated state-level unemployment data two weeks ago for the period covering the third quarter of 2017 to the third quarter in 2018. We had already seen the nationwide numbers before, and we knew that for the economy as a whole the unemployment rate increased from 20.4 to 23.1 percent. Still it was interesting to see how unemployment varied across the country. To say there were some very bad performers would be putting it lightly.


Ten states saw a ten percentage point increase in unemployment and all of them were in the North. Gombe state was the worst of the bunch with unemployment increasing from just over 10 percent to 27 percent in one year. Bauchi and Adamawa were not far behind while Kano which now has an unemployment rate of 31 percent currently ranks as the state with the fifth highest rate of unemployment and the fifth largest increase over the period. A very worrying statistic given that Kano is supposed to be one of the states with the largest population in Nigeria.


Part of the unemployment story in the north relates to the dominance of agriculture which is the major employer of labour. Employment in agriculture depends on the seasons of course. People might switch between unemployed and underemployed depending on the farming season. It is therefore useful to look at the trend in both the unemployed and underemployed, that captures people who were completely unemployed but also people who were fully employed and became underemployed.


The numbers paint the same picture. The states with the largest increases in unemployment are also the states with the largest drop in underemployment. In essence a lot of people who were managing to eke out an existence have moved … Read More...

FG restates effort to tackle youth unemployment, underemployment

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President Muhammad Buhari reiterated Federal Government undaunted efforts to tackle youth unemployment and underemployment through matrix of initiatives.
Buhari made this known at the 13th convocation ceremonies of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka on Friday.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of State Education, Tony Anwuka, said the initiatives included N-Power, Bank of Industry’s Youth Entrepreneurship Support (YES), the CBN and Bank of Agriculture Support Scheme.
“As part of the continuing efforts to stave off, the number of initiatives to boost the employability of graduands of our tertiary institutions, either as employer or in self employment.
“These initiatives include, but not limited to, the energising education programmes through the rural electricity agency, the intent of which is, to provide captive power plants for selected tertiary institutions
“Thus, providing them with the needed uninterrupted power supply and the skill G projects by TETFUND which provides computers, laboratory equipment and other learning resources to tertiary institutions,” he said.
The President restated also the conviction of Federal Government that education was the bedrock of socioeconomic development of society.
Consequently, within the limits of available resources thus government will continue to give primary place to education.
Vice Chancellor of the university, Joseph Ahaneku, commended the Federal Government for the immense support and encouragement to his administration, ending in the first week of June.
He commended also the Chancellor, Jacob Gyang, the pro-Chancellor, Azeez Bello, the governing council, stakeholders of university, staff, students, benefactors and others who contributed in various ways to the success of his administration.
Ahaneku said 6,500 were conferred with first degrees, 182 postgraduate diplomas, 763 masters’ degrees and 269 Ph.D.
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Emeka Offor and Babagana Kingibe were conferred with honorary degrees for their positive impact in the society.

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Nigeria’s economic axis of evil

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In 2002, the “axis of evil” became a very popular lexicon after the US President George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as such for state sponsor of terrorism and for seeking nuclear weapons. David Frum, the President’s speechwriter who the phrase was attributed to later wrote in his book that he wanted the shortest possible phrase that fulfills the case for removing the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

In Nigeria, our problems are not so esoteric and complex, but the potential for damage and destruction is as powerful. Indeed, earlier in the year, I had characterised Nigeria’s current level of unemployment, the number of children out of school and the level of poverty as three parameters with the potential to stifle Nigeria’s economic growth potential and to slow the economy for another two decades in the absence of significant and serious set of economic reforms.

It is worth reiterating where we are in relation to the latest data on these parameters. First, since the Brookings report of June 2018, it is now common knowledge that Nigeria overtook India to become the country with the largest population of people living in extreme poverty. The report claims that Nigeria has 87 million people in extreme poverty category and that this number is increasing by 6 people every minute. The report concluded that the rise in Nigeria’s poverty is driven by three parameters – low economic growth, high inequality, and population growth.

Second, also in 2018, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released the latest available report on Nigeria’s unemployment. The report showed two staggering conclusions. One is that unemployment increased from 18.8% in Q3 2017 to 23.1% in Q3 2018, up by 5 percentage points just in a year. The second is that … Read More...